R. v. GWA, [Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Lethbridge – July 2020]

GWA was charged with sexually assaulting 4 separate young males over  the course of an 18-month period while acting in a position of trust.  GWA was a middle-aged married man with a child of his own and no  prior adverse contact with the police whatsoever.  

All 4 Complainants were wards of the State who knew each other and had deep-seated “issues”. The allegations primarily involved touching for a sexual purpose. GWA denied touching any of the boys for a sexual purpose. As GWA was facing a lengthy period of imprisonment and life-long enrolment thereafter in the Sex Offender Registry, he hired  Patrick Fagan to defend this most serious prosecution.  

To improve the odds of conviction, the assigned Crown Prosecutor charged GWA in such a manner so as to ensure that he would be tried in relation to all 4 “victims” at the same trial. Patrick Fagan’s efforts to have GWA tried separately in relation to each Complainant/victim was denied. Consequently, pleas of not guilty were entered to all charges in relation to all Complainant’s and the matter scheduled for a Queen’s  Bench trial. 

In an effort to enhance the prospects of success at trial, Patrick Fagan pursued a number of pre-trial applications involving hearsay, similar fact evidence, untimely reversal of Crown’s stated position on evidentiary matters, adjournment applications, and (ultimately) an application to re-elect to trial by way of Judge and Jury. Some of these applications were successful… some were not. 

BOTTOM LINE: The 2-week Queen’s Bench Judge and Jury trial never happened.  

Why? The pre-trial applications pursued by Patrick Fagan in conjunction with an application for constitutional relief as a  consequence of the violation of GWA’s right to be tried within a  reasonable period of time as guaranteed by s. 11(b) of the Canadian  Charter of Rights and Freedoms, resulted in the killing of all charges in relation to each and every Complainant/victim.  

For those of you who may be interested in a more in-depth understanding of this case, please consult the transcripts of the judicial  Orders flowing from the pre-trial applications: 

  • Ruling on somewhat novel application to re-elect from Judge  Alone to Judge and Jury well beyond the statutory deadline. Click here
  • Ruling on hearsay, similar fact evidence, and the Jordan application. Click here